Why you’re not sourcing top performing talent and what you can do about it

Sourcing suitable, let alone top performing, talent is a huge challenge for SMEs in Australia. In fact, according to the Sensis Business Index June 2016* survey, it is the number one challenge facing SMEs, closely followed by retaining top talent.

Many businesses are finding that their recruits aren’t meeting their expectations of performance or cultural fit. There is a clear gap between how Australian businesses recruit and the desired results. What’s going wrong?

The traditional route

The recruitment process has long been undertaken in the same way. You need to fill a role, so you advertise and state your requirements. Most job ads will refer to requirements such as year’s of experience, qualifications, or broad skills.

Let’s say your job ad includes requirements like more than five years of experience in the particular industry, a university degree and a “team player” mentality.

So, you advertise for the role, you receive applications and you begin to sift through them, hoping the right candidate will jump out at you. As it turns out, once you sit down and review the applications, you realise you know very little about the candidates that have applied. You know whether they fit the criteria you’ve given, but you don’t know how they work, who they are and what they can offer your team. You don’t know whether they’ll perform or whether they’ll be the right fit.

As it turns out the criteria you’ve used to attract candidates – years of experience, tertiary qualifications and broad skills – are not indicators of performance. And when you think about how little we learn when we judge people based on these criteria – doesn’t that make a whole lot of sense?

Not only does the traditional model of recruitment make it difficult to identify the best candidates, it can actually put up barriers to finding the right candidates. Most businesses end up reducing the pool of candidates based on criteria that ultimately contribute very little to the success of that candidate. Just think, you could actually be deterring people who would perform well in your team from even applying!

So, we know the old way of recruiting doesn’t work.

What’s the alternative?

The good news is there are ways to improve your recruitment process and ensure you are doing the most you can to attract top performers for your business. New and bespoke ways to recruit top performing talent can be the difference between your new hire being the right fit for your business…or not.

These days it’s not just about filling a role with the person that has the best university degree or the most highly regarded experience. In fact, big players like Ernst and Young** are abandoning such methods, in favour of a new approach of recruiting based on the person themselves, and how they will fit within the team.

Overall, this alternative is about choosing people based on who they are as a person, and whether or not their attitude, behaviours and personality are the right fit for your business, and vice versa.

The criteria used when advertising a job should be more about the type of person you are looking for, and less about the job itself. This will broaden the field of potential applicants, as you’re removing possible hurdles such as a required number of years experience. Many tools of the trade can be taught and learnt, but a person’s attitude and personality are pretty set.

The key is to benchmark your team to allow you to understand whether the candidate will be a good fit or not. After all, there’s no point hiring someone who may have the potential to excel, if they’re unlikely to fit into the team – this can be one of the major considerations for people when they leave a role early on.

* https://www.sensis.com.au/about/our-reports/sensis-business-index

** https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/ernst-and-young-drops-degree-classification-threshold-graduate-recruitment

David Leahy, Director, Directions Unlimited